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Gov. Branstad Proposed Funding Hike for Apprenticeship Programs

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Jeff Pitts has about a year left in his electrical apprenticeship at the electrical apprenticeship training center in Cedar Rapids.

We asked what he'd be doing if he weren't here.

"Probably still doing concrete," Pitts told us. "I did concrete for 15 years."

His apprenticeship lets him earn as he learns, and in this line of work, he's not at the mercy of the weather.

"With this, you're all year round. It's nice," Pitts said.

Training director Mike Carson says there's a growing need for apprentices like Pitts in Iowa, with the Iowa Economic Development Authority investing to bring more building projects into the state. Governor Terry Branstad announced on Tuesday that he wants to triple the state's funding for apprenticeship programs.

"The need for manpower in all the trades has increased, and that doesn't happen overnight because there's the training component; everybody has to be skilled and qualified," Carson explained.

Carson said his program, which has 110 apprentices, takes out applications for funding every year, so more funding will mean better training opportunities.

Carson said they spent over a million dollars a couple of years ago to expand their facility to continue to offer quality training, as well as continuing education for their journeyman electricians. "It's really valuable," Carson told us.

Carson said there's also growing interest in becoming an apprentice across Iowa's many trades, as high school students learn more about the benefits.

"A person gets to start earning a living wage right off the bat with no tuition. Usually they have to pay for their books, but other than that, we're funded by our members and contractors," Carson said.

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